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Alirajpur, deathbed of 291 farmers

If one tries to decipher the language of figures, police records indicate that Alirajpur has become a huge graveyard. In a period of just three years, the district has seen 291 deaths, all of farmers' who chose not to live.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2012 11:42 IST
Ritesh Mishra

If one tries to decipher the language of figures, police records indicate that Alirajpur has become a huge graveyard. In a period of just three years, the district has seen 291 deaths, all of farmers' who chose not to live.

Apart from debt, frustration owing to long-illness is seen as a major cause behind these suicides. Mental imbalance, non-payment of labour charges, family feud, parenthood, excessive drinking and even failed love were among the other reasons, claim police. A majority of farmers (nearly 70%) committed suicide by hanging. According to the records (HT has a copy), between 2009 and 2011 in Alirajpur district, a total of 358 people committed suicide out of which 291 were farmers, mostly tribals. That is to say that 8 out of every 10 suicides reported in these three years were for farming community.

The figures say 94 farmers in these three years committed suicide because they were fed-up with one or the disease while 62 farmers have committed suicide in inebriated state.

It is worth mentioning that police records do not mention the names of these diseases. "Alirajpur has the lowest Human Development Index in the state; with the Bhil tribals wallowing in extreme poverty, illiteracy and ill health. These negativities reinforce each other and put severe emotional and mental stress on these poor people which are compounded by the corrupt and repressive behaviour of the government officials," says Rahul Banerjee, a social activist working among the tribals.

In 2009, 81 out of 98 people who committed suicide were farmers. However, next year the homicide increased by a huge margin. Out of 140 suicides reported, 119 were farmers. The reason behind the suicides, according to police, varied from family feud to illness to even addiction. A couple of suicides were also reported due to failed love affairs.

And last year, a total of 120 people committed suicide under different police stations of Alirajpur, of which 91 were farmers. Police records say that most of these committed suicides because they were fed-up with illness.

Though the police did not attribute any of these suicides to debt, but social scientists and psychologists feel that causes like illness or mental imbalance has some connection to poverty.

"This high figure of suicide is mainly because tribals are not educated and heath conscious due to which they get trapped into illness and commit suicide. Yet we are trying to the contain suicides in the district," said Alriajpur collector Rajendra Singh.

"It is not surprising that 58% of those committing suicides in Alirajpur have done so due to mental imbalance and frustrations arising from long ill health and another 22% because of excessive drinking to drown their frustrations. It is a silent rebuke from these helpless people against the shameless failure of governance in the tribal regions of this state," Banerjee added.